Cricket is a game that depends a lot on the start the players provide. Often the narrative of an innings is dictated by the start given by the opening batsman/bowler. In a two-month-long tournament, teams would like to start off well to set the pace for the back end of the season.
A good start would mean the team have found a settled winning combination and would want to continue the momentum to the finals. But there have been many occasions that teams, after having started the tournament badly, have resurrected their campaign to perform well in the latter stage of the season.
Some of the teams have even gone to win the tournament after being on the verge of elimination from the knockout race. Over the decade long history of IPL, franchises have scripted such comebacks in the tournament. Let's trace the top 7 such instances in IPL.
#7 Royal Challengers Bangalore - 2011
Having carried the tag of Test players team for the first three years, RCB made a complete revamp of their squad in 2011 as they retained only Virat Kohli from their previous squad. They looked a strong outfit as they bought the likes of Daniel Vettori, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Although they won their first match of the season, they lost all the momentum as they were comprehensively beaten in the next three matches. The batting unit failed to put match-winning performances as they were at the bottom of the table after five matches. Chris Gayle was brought into the team to replace the injured Dirk Nannes.
He changed their fortunes straight away as he scored a 100 in his first match of the season that too against his former team Kolkata Knight Riders. There was no looking back for them as they won seven matches consecutively to seal the top spot in the points table.
Their dream journey was halted by Chennai Super Kings in the finals. But their rise from the bottom to the top of the table was well commendable. Their record of seven consecutive wins was the most by any team at that point of time.
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#6 Chennai Super Kings - 2012
Going into the 2012 season, CSK were clear favorites as they had won the title in the previous two seasons. They also added India's primary all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja to their already strong squad. Henceforth, CSK's playoff spot was seen as a certainty by all the teams.
But to the surprise of everyone, CSK was inconsistent at the start of the tournament. They were beaten comprehensively in few matches and they even lost a few from winning positions. CSK won a few thanks to some brilliant performances from Jadeja and Faf du Plessis.
At the end of 12 games, CSK had won only five and their qualification was in jeopardy as they were scheduled to face off the teams that were occupying the top four spots. But CSK showed enormous resurgence as they beat in-form teams to sneak into the playoffs. Chennai transformed from a struggling team to the favorites as they smashed Mumbai and Delhi to qualify for their fourth final in five years.
KKR was given a challenging target of 191 by Chennai to win their first title. KKR romped home successfully with a stunning 48-ball 89 from Manvinder Bisla.
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#5 Royal Challengers Bangalore - 2016
2016 season of the IPL was a run-scoring feast as runs kept flowing from the bat of almost every batsman. Two batsmen who made the world watch in awe with their audacious hitting are Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. But RCB's bowlers were taken for cleaners as they had won only two of the first seven games.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Shane Watson stepped up in the bowling department as RCB got back to winning ways. They continued to be on the wickets column as Bangalore won six of the next seven games to ensure a spot in the first qualifier.
A huge reason for their qualification were the batting exploits of Kohli and de Villiers as the number of 50+ scores the duo had was 18 at the end of the tournament. It was the South African's blinder of an innings in the first qualifier that took RCB to the final.
Chasing a mammoth 209 in the final, Kohli and Gayle got off to a brilliant start scoring 110 in 10 overs. But once they were dismissed the batting line-up just couldn't maintain the run-rate as they eventually fell short of the target by 8 runs.
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#4 Mumbai Indians - 2014
The first half of the 2014 IPL was scheduled in UAE to avoid the clash with general elections in India. Defending champions Mumbai Indians started off their campaign with a loss against Kolkata. Their campaign went into a major slump as they failed to register a single win in the UAE-leg.
A return to the Wankhede Stadium brought their journey back on track as Mumbai notched up a couple of wins. But defeats to CSK and KKR meant that Mumbai had to win all the remaining games to qualify for the playoffs. The imports in Mike Hussey and Lendl Simmons stood up as they clawed back into the qualification race.
In their last league match, they were given a herculean task of chasing 190 in 14.3 overs. Corey Anderson who was promoted to No: 3 played a stupendous knock and Aditya Tare smashed a six off the final ball to sneak past Rajasthan Royals via net run-rate to qualify for the knockouts.
Although they lost to Chennai in the Eliminator, their resurgence from being winless in the first five matches to qualify was very much appreciated.
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#3 Kolkata Knight Riders - 2014
After lacking success in the first three seasons, Kolkata Knight Riders impressed on and all in the next three including a title in 2012. To repeat the success, they retained their core, including their inspirational skipper Gautam Gambhir.
In 2014, they started off with a win over Mumbai, but they tapered off as they could win only one in the next four games in the UAE leg. As they returned to India, they made many changes to their line-up. Experienced Jacques Kallis was dropped, and Robin Uthappa was asked to open the innings.
The move helped them ensure a playoff spot as KKR won five matches consecutively while batting second. In their last league game against the Sunrisers, Yusuf Pathan scored the fastest ever 50 in the IPL history as his 22-ball 72 helped them chase down a target of 160 with six overs to spare. As a result, they finished ahead of Chennai with a better net run-rate.
They strolled past Kings XI Punjab in the first qualifier and in the final the same team put 199 on board. A scintillating inning from Manish Pandey stopped the Punjab juggernaut as Kolkata won their second title in three years. From being at the bottom of the table, they won nine matches consecutively.
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#2 Chennai Super Kings - 2010
Chennai started off the season with a huge loss over Deccan Chargers. Although they won the next match against Kolkata, their captain MS Dhoni was injured and missed out few games. The team slumped to further defeats as they could win only two games at the halfway stage of the season.
Murali Vijay started the turnaround for Chennai as his 39-ball 78 helped them beat Bangalore. He went one step ahead by smashing 127 off just 56 balls against the Rajasthan Royals. He along with Albie Morkel helped them post 246, which was the highest total ever in IPL. Naman Ojha and Watson made a match out of it but Doug Bollinger's spell of 4-0-15-2 and an outstanding boundary line catch got two points for CSK.
In a must-win game against Punjab, Dhoni displayed his extraordinary finishing skills with his 29-ball 54. They defended a below-par target of 143 in the semifinal against Deccan Chargers. They eventually went on to clinch the title as they beat Mumbai Indians in the final. From a team of no hopefuls, they became the champions of the season.
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#1 Mumbai Indians - 2015
Mumbai Indians once again lost the opening match of an IPL season as KKR beat them convincingly. To add to their worries, they lost the next three matches as well. Although they won a high scoring thriller against RCB, their heavy defeat against Delhi slumped them to the last place.
But they slowly came back to winning ways as they notched a couple of wins at their home ground. Apart from a batting master class in a game from AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, no one could stop their impressive run. Runs came from the likes of Lendl Simmons, Rohit Sharma, and Kieron Pollard while usual suspects in Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh contributed with the ball.
They beat table-toppers Chennai in the first qualifier comfortably by 25 runs and in the final they defeated arch-rivals once again to take home their second IPL trophy. Opponents had no option as from a bottom-placed team they went to became invincibles in the season.